Skip to main content

North Hills Monthly

Bridge Named to Honor ‘Ambassador to the Outdoors’

Nov 30, 2018 11:44AM ● By Kathleen Ganster

Marian Crossman at the opening of the bridge named in her honor.

It isn’t every day that a bridge is named after you, but Marian Crossman downplays the honor. The Ross Township woman insists that she was selected by default. 

“The bridge must be named for me because I'm the eldest of current local members still able to enjoy volunteering on the local trails,” she said. 

But others know better. 

“We named it after Marian because she has put in more time and effort to preserve this outdoor space and to nurture the dream of connecting it to North Park than anybody else,” said Bob Mulshine, president of the Rachel Carson Trails Conservancy (RCTC).

The bridge is part of the new official connection of the Rachel Carson Trail (RCT) and the Harmony Trail. This past year, the western terminus of the RCT was extended from the Beaver Shelter area in North Park approximately 10 miles west to the Harmony Trail in Wexford. Since trail users had to cross Wexford Run, a stream that flows into Pine Creek, the RCTC decided to build the new bridge to make the crossing dry and comfortable. The eastern terminus of the trail is in Harrison Hills County Park, making the new trail approximately 46 miles long. With a trail spur to Hartwood Acres, the trail connects three Allegheny County Parks. 

Crossman was a founding member of the Harmony Trail Council, which eventually acquired land for the Harmony Trail, the land used for the bridge and the last segment of the RCT. Now 88, Crossman moved to the area with her late husband, Dave. 

“She has been doing volunteer work to connect people with the outdoors since 1969 when she helped start the North Area Environmental Council. She has done so much work on the trails and with our events that she is like an ambassador for the outdoors. Marian is recognized by the many people using the trails and liked by all,” Mulshine said. 

The bridge will serve as an honor for her late husband, Crossman said. 

“The bridge naming means a way that Dave's family name can last. He was the one who provided leadership for me to become adept in the outdoor world. Together we hiked and toured for 50 years,” she said. 

Crossman has also volunteered with the Group for Recycling in Pennsylvania, the Audubon Society, and served on the Ross Park Planning Commission. She continues to serve on the board of the RCTC. 

The bridge project took close to two years and included the work of numerous volunteers, including a team of 40 who came out on the weekend it was erected. It was completed in September and dedicated on October 27. The bridge cost approximately $25,000 with another $60,000 for expenses including surveying the property and applying for necessary permits. Costs were covered by grants and in-kind donations from REI, Allegheny Regional Asset District (ARAD), the Commonwealth Financing Authority, Jase Construction Services and an anonymous donor. The Rachel Carson Trails Conservancy covered remaining expenses. 

“Connecting the two trails, for which the bridge was necessary, opened up more trail for people in the local neighborhoods to walk, jog or use for dog walking. There are a lot of people who live or work in the proximity of the trails who can benefit from spending a little time in nature,” Mulshine said.  

The trail connection and bridge project are part of an overall plan of the RCTC and municipalities to connect a network of trails in western Pennsylvania. 

“Pine Township has been supportive of our efforts to connect the Harmony Trail to a bigger trail network,” said Mulshine. “Pine is part of a group of municipalities that is working on the Commodore Perry Trail which will flow from the Route 910 end of the Harmony Trail up to Jackson Township.” 

For more information about the Harmony Trail and the Rachel Carson Trails, visit http://rachelcarsontrails.org.